Turkey’s Evolving Role in Fight Against ISIS

A joint Defense Department planning team recently wrapped up discussions with the Turkish government over the possible use of its bases for launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby during a joint press briefing at the State Department Thursday. Kirby said he expects a readout of the talks soon, though he had no announcements to make on breakthroughs. “I’m just told that the discussions were positive, but I don’t have anything to announce,” he said. Though talks have largely focused on the use of Incirlik AB, Turkey, near Adana for strikes on ISIS targets, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the facilities are used for other purposes too. “Turkey has let in over 100,000 refugees, they have provided access for humanitarian purposes,” she said, and have agreed to host training and equipping efforts for the Syrian rebels. “They are taking steps that are useful and productive for the coalitions,” she added. Asked if Turkey continues to insist on implementing a “safe zone” and a no-fly zone targeting Syrian government aircraft as a condition for access, Kirby declined to elaborate but suggested the US was actively engaging on the subject. “We continue to be willing to discuss the (buffer zone) issue with the Turks,” he said, but “there are no active military plans” by the US to set up a designated safe area in northern Syria. (Briefing transcript.)